With two points in three matches, Strasbourg is off to a slow start to the season in accounting terms. It must be said that the RCSA struggles in the game, while its workforce has changed little. “Sometimes it only takes one or two changes to deconstruct the whole thing. The players have talked a lot, no one is in denial. We have to be less vulnerable, we concede too many chances, ”said coach Julien Stéphan on Thursday, who urges his team to “find their basics”. If Matz Sels is flawless in his goal, all lines must progress.
An overdue defense
It was one of their strong points in 2021-2022: the Alsatians left only crumbs to their opponents. This is no longer the case. In 3 matches, the team has conceded 6.52 expected goals according to Opta (it has conceded 4) and has already suffered 31 shots in its area. A revelation of last season, Gerzino Nyamsi displayed worrying feverishness against Monaco (1-2, August 6) and Nice (1-1, August 14). Lucas Perrin is suffering as much as when he arrived last summer. Both men are now injured and absent for several matches, which changes the defensive settings. Against Reims (1-1, Sunday), Alexander Djiku worked in the middle of the central trio, “a sector different from the one in which he is used to evolving (left axis)”, conceded Stephan. In Auxerre, Maxime Le Marchand should take over in this role. The former Nice must find the rhythm of the competition when he was injured for a long time (back). The central defense, where the young Ismaël Doukouré (19 years old, 16 minutes in L1 in his career) will start, also suffers because of the average positioning of the team which is lower.
Maxime Le Marchand needs to find some rhythm. (S. Boué/The Team)
A far too neutral environment
“It’s a collective problem” emphasizes Stephan. The midfield also protects the defense less well. “We have to be closer to each other but also to the ball carrier, analyzed Thomas Delaine on Thursday. You have to be more compact to concede fewer chances. » In the absence of Ibrahima Sissoko (injured), the Bellegarde-Prcic-Thomasson trio is struggling. The Bosnian, whose club had made his extension a priority as he is important in the system, no longer dictates the tempo. Jean-Ricner Bellegarde tries to bring a bit of madness, but is not 100% physically due to a small injury in preparation. As for Adrien Thomasson, he seems less bloody, asking for his replacement against Reims (77th). A rarity for someone who is one of the first triggers (and often the best) of Alsatian pressing. The former Nantes still runs a lot, but in isolation because the whole team has lost intensity. Moreover, she presses much lower: 19.7 times per game in the last third of the field against … 39.1 last season!
Prcic no longer dictates the tempo. (S. Boué/The Team)
A woozy attack
The non-establishment of Ludovic Ajorque in the last two matches can also explain this concern with the pressing. The big forward is known for constantly harassing the opposing carrier. In the possession phase, its size (1.97 m) makes it an essential target, in delivery or to strike. But the Reunionese has an exit voucher after asking to leave.
A complicated personal situation which may have pushed Stéphan to rely more heavily on Habib Diallo to support Kevin Gameiro. However, the Senegalese has a completely different profile from Ajorque and the team cannot play the same way when he is on the pitch. If he scored against Monaco, Diallo is struggling to fit into the game patterns. Gameiro, he also scored (in Nice) and his technique is often good. But the 35-year-old striker doesn’t seem to be on top form yet. Like all his team.
Habib Diallo (left) is struggling to fit into the game patterns. (F. Porcu / L’Équipe)